Newly appointed Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu was seeking advice from his predecessors in the trade ministry, including former Congress ministers Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh, according to Indian Express. The former Railway Minister was reaching out to them to gain from their experiences ahead of the upcoming mini-ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on October 9-10 in Marrakech in Morocco and then the crucial Eleventh Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires of Argentina slated for December 11-14.
The issues that are crucial for India, in the forthcoming ministerial conference of WTO in Argentina in December, are fisheries subsidies and permanent solution on public stock-holding for food security purposes. The ministerial conference is the highest decision-making body of the WTO. The food security issue concerns several developing nations which provide subsidised foodgrain to their poor. India is pitching to fulfil the pending agenda which includes finding a permanent solution to the issue of food stockpiling. New Delhi also wants WTO members to deliberate upon a proposal submitted by India in trade facilitation in services. On the other hand, developed countries, including the US, are pushing for inclusion of certain new issues like investment facilitation and e-commerce in the World Trade Organisation agenda.
India has stated that discussions on new issues could divert attention from priority areas. Procurement and public stock-holding for food security are invaluable instrumentalities used in developing countries where agriculture is mainly rain-fed and markets are imperfect and not integrated. The food security issue concerns several developing nations which provide subsidised foodgrain to their poor. A peace clause exists till a permanent solution is found for the food stockpiling issue.
This clause has enabled India to continue procurement and stocking of foodgrain for distribution to the poor under its food security programme without attracting any kind of action from WTO members even if it breaches the 10 per cent subsidy cap as prescribed by the multilateral trade body.